Archive for Call to Action

Net Metering, Smart Metering What is Fair to all Parties?

When homeowners install solar on their residences, he/she needs permission from the company that supplies your electricity. There are 578,000 individual solar installations in the U.S. representing less than 2 per cent of the nation’s total capacity. So what is the problem that faces your power provider? The most expressed opposition is due to those homes that have enough solar so that at the end of the year, their electric bill is zero. The power company still provides power when the solar output is insufficient to power the home. Obviously, between sunset and the next sunrise, the home depends on the local power company for its electricity. Yet the power company receives no compensation for the service or for the upkeep of its power system.
As the editor of Power Engineering magazine, February 2015 issue says, “The debate over solar is about creating a just cost structure that is fair to both sides” (provider and user). I believe that such a fair cost structure could be created based on the power delivery and infrastructure upkeep costs.
Take the power delivery issue. The electric power provider is responsible for providing sufficient power based on the residential demand. That responsibility comes with a price. What should the price be based is the issue. Should it be a fixed cost? Should it be based on the amount of energy that the home uses when the solar PV is insufficient? This is a great topic for discussion.

Now the other cost consideration, infrastructure upkeep. Should the pricing of the power delivery be based on the cost of power to the distributor and a separate cost for system infrastructure?
“Consumers Energy is a regulated utility, meaning that the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) approves all rates for electric and natural gas service provided to customers.
Rates are primarily established in two basic regulatory proceedings that address:
The base costs of utility service that incorporate the pipes and wires through which service is delivered and the costs of owning and operating power plants, and, the costs for fuel and purchased power for electric service (power supply) or gas commodity costs.”
(http://www.consumersenergy.com/content.aspx?id=4589)
So now we have an example that separates the cost of electric power and the upkeep cost of providing the system that delivers the power. Every customer tied to the grid should pay for the cost of providing the system upkeep and separately noted on the monthly electric bill. It leaves one nuance remaining; the cost of providing electric power reliably. This cost is a guarantee that you will have electric power at all times and has a value that needs to be defined. Please comment on what you think is a reasonable approach and why.

Our friends at SolarCity are looking for new PV Designers!!

Our friends over at SolarCity are looking for individuals interested in a career as a PV Designer! They will be hiring now until March 18th! Individuals with an engineering degree or previous experience are great but not mandatory. What’s more important is that you’re a quick learner, motivated, and good problem solvers! If this sounds like it would be of interest to you get in contact with us or contact SolarCity for more information. Be sure to act quickly!

Energy program can aid farmers, small businesses

In Tennessee, solar panels are not as common as silos on farms, but recently they have been becoming more and more popular across the Volunteer State.

Tennessee farmers are beginning to take advantage of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program promoting renewable energy and energy-efficient projects.

It’s smart for farmers and owners of small businesses to invest and participate in the programs to reduce energy costs and potentially make a few extra dollars selling excess power.

The program USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is providing grants and loans for renewable energy and energy projects to small businesses in rural areas with a population of 50,000 or less. It is growing in Tennessee, with more than $2 million available for projects state wide just this year, compared to $326,000 last year.

Monroe, Knox, and Loudon counties have been home to two-thirds of the projects in East Tennessee for 2006 to 2014.

The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Green Power Provider program, which pays a premium for energy generated by renewable sources has worked hand in hand with the REAP program in the past few years. Unfortunately, TVA is erasing its green power incentives as more money becomes available through REAP for investment in solar and other renewable projects.

Read the article here.

Apple Invests In A Large Scale Solar Energy Project

In San Francisco, California—Apple will spend almost $850 million on a solar energy project, potentially generating enough power for their new corporate headquarters, retail stores, and other facilities in California.

This will make Apple the largest consumer of energy from this new solar facility. Constructed on 2,900 acres in rural Monterrey County, south of San Francisco Bay, the facility will have the capacity of 280 megawatts.

CEO Tim Cook said in an investment conference that this project reflects Apple’s concern for climate change.

The project will begin later in the year and finished by the end of 2016.

Read the article here.

The Carport of The Future

With more than 40 percent of the pavement in an average city tied up in parking areas, it’s safe to say that garages and carports are all around us. Many urban areas are changing the way these concrete blocks are being viewed–one solar panel addition at a time. Solar panel carports have the ability to incredibly impact energy-production all while looking like something straight out of the future.
Certain high-profile corporations and universities have given the special carports a whirl and have since generated an abundance of power. Rutgers University in Piscataway, NJ, currently houses the largest solar parking canopy project in the U.S. With a 28-acre installation, it is no wonder over 60% of the campus’ annual electricity is provided for by the plant. With such incredible amounts of energy produced at Rutgers University by way of “solar parking”, many are left to wonder why similar additions have yet to be started in their area. The discouraging factor for such projects, as stated by Chase Weir of TruSolar, is money. Weir goes on to say, such projects are “The most expensive type of system to build”. Solar carports may be impressively beneficial and aesthetically awing, however there is no denying they are also incredibly expensive…“So at least for now, the market remains relatively niche.”

Read the article here.